Compassion was the first rose I ever deliberately purchased, around 25 years ago. She's moved house three times, remains one of our personal favourites and has spawned a phalanx of long-serving clones.
Before saying anything else about her, let me assure you that one of her most endearing qualities is her willingness to reliably reproduce from pieces of random cane shoved into the edge of the vege garden over winter. I just bury them one-third to halfway, then forget them. In spring, new leaves and roots fart out the ends and save you thirty bux.
That's what we pay down here in New Zealand for a first grade nursery rose these days. I mean, I understand it's not cheap to graft and raise a rose to point of sale and we're eternally grateful to those who do, but it's shameful that a once egalitarian pleasure is becoming a fucking socioeconomic indicator. You used to see everyone at nurseries- hippies, the gays, nanas, white gumboot guys, weirdos, farmers, the lower upper middle classes; now it's just sad old hos like me who managed to buy land in the 90s.
It's fucking depressing.
They can hold for a couple of weeks in the vase on stems that are always strong enough to support them; that is only something you miss when you're cursing a saggy fistful of droopy, petal-dripping DAs. They seldom ball or rot on the plant and keep their lovely colours for many days, even in our ruinous UV. Compassion offers a weird assortment of bloom presentations, ranging from single stems to huge cauliflower trusses that will open in obliging succession. I sometimes do a bit of disbudding on the latter to tighten their schedule in the vase, but there's no need to manage her production as her petals drop cleanly and all flowers will open in due course.
Fragrance-wise, I rate her highly within her somewhat dodgy category; the tonality of her perfume is closely coupled with her colours, having a sweet and warmly classical true rose character, with none of the unpleasant plasticky notes than so often fuck up the Hybrid Tea nose experience.
Compassion's disease resistance is highly gratifying in our no-spray situation. She'll pick up a wee bit of blackspot in a particularly bad year but keeps on trucking while other plants are completely defoliated. Her leaves are too shiny and leathery to provide much of a foothold to mildew or rust. We bought our first plant in those distant days before most root stock was screened, so our clones are sometimes mottled with ye olde Mosaic Virus. It doesn't seem to vex her.
In the last few years I've taken to researching the ancestry of any potential rose purchase as a fairly reliable way of keeping duds out of my dirt. Although fabulous plants can pop up randomly from indifferent stock, I generally want to see at least two seasoned rock stars in any prospect's recent background.
Compassion is a great example of this principle and a testament to her breeder's diligence with multiple generations of quality plants underpinning her outstanding qualities. Prima Ballerina imparted her best floral characteristics- substance and fragrance. The other parent, White Cockade, is a busy pillar/climber descended from immortal monsters New Dawn/ Dr W. Van Fleet; it has conferred its muscular structure, unfailing floriferousness and shitkicking R. wichuraiana vigour.
Behold the massive trunk-like winter canes of our original plant to the left there. Pruning her is definitely a job for the Japanese handsaw. I actually don't have any good pics of our Compassions in full summer livery- sorry about that!
Our two largest examples are more than happy with half a day's tree shade and lacklustre soil. She is neither hungry nor thirsty, exhibiting her wild ancestors' feral indifference to pandering by foliating and flowering well on just a handful of budget fert and I suspect this is more attention than she actually needs.
In my scrabble for anything to bitch about in regard to this paragon, I can complain only of the inevitable rose-related injuries. Compassion is not particularly thorny (see above left pic) and her picking stems are usually quite clean, meaning it's easy to forget the hooks; her stature can result in a hard shanking where you least expect it. I'm tall and have one of her thorns currently dissolving in my tricep- smaller peeps could easily cop a hit to the face, so don't follow our dipshit example and go planting her beside a narrow path. Durrr.